How to Sing (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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The first and maybe the only book about singing written by a woman singer of such international stature, How to Sing is a rare collection of first-hand singing knowledge. Lehmann presents precisely detailed descriptions on everything from tongue placement to breathing and provides detailed diagrams to further convey physical sensations. Her convictions on the state of singing quality and the work ethics needed to attain a level of true competency are found in nearly every exercise. How to Sing should be read by ...
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How to Sing (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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Overview

The first and maybe the only book about singing written by a woman singer of such international stature, How to Sing is a rare collection of first-hand singing knowledge. Lehmann presents precisely detailed descriptions on everything from tongue placement to breathing and provides detailed diagrams to further convey physical sensations. Her convictions on the state of singing quality and the work ethics needed to attain a level of true competency are found in nearly every exercise. How to Sing should be read by singers, instructors, and anyone interested in this fascinating art.<%END%>

About the Author:Lilli Lehmann, born in 1848, spent her childhood in Prague learning how to sing from her mother Marie Loewe, a former leading soprano and long-time personal friend of the controversial composer, Richard Wagner. At the age of sixteen, Lehmann debuted as the First Boy in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and in 1870 she joined the Berlin Royal Opera. The Kaiser banned her operatic performances until 1891 as a penalty for her having overstayed her leave in New York, but she triumphed as an international soprano with 170 memorable roles.<%END%>

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Editorial Reviews

New York Evening Post
The most important book for singers ever written!
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Product Details

Introduction

The eminent and highly-respected critic Henry T. Finck wrote in the New York Evening Post years ago, "In this, the most important book for singers ever written, Lilli Lehmann gives hundreds of hygienic and artistic hints. If every woman or man who tried to teach singing were compelled to pass an examination in Lehmann's 'How to Sing,' how many more good singers there would be in the world and how many voices saved from wreck and ruin!"

Because I am introducing this work to a new generation, I should introduce Madame Lehmann. She occupies a unique place in the history of singing and in the teaching of singing. She was born in Würzburg, Germany, on November 24, 1848. Raised in Prague, Czechoslovakia, she made her professional debut there at the age of seventeen, as the First Boy in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte . She sang major operatic roles until she was sixty-two and in recitals and concerts until she was seventy-two. She sang 170 roles in 114 operas. In the history of operatic singing, there has not been a longer or more successful career. She died in Berlin on May 17, 1929.

One of the most amazing aspects of her career is the enormous variety of roles that she could sing. Her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, for instance, was Carmen in the Bizet opera of the same name. This took place in November of 1885. During the five seasons she was with the company, she sang, among others, Marguerite in Faust , Isolde in Tristan und Isolde , and several roles in the first complete presentation of the Ring cycle in the United States.

Before coming to America, she had sung, under Wagner himself, three roles in the Ring cycle at Bayreuth and at Her Majesty's Theatre in London she was Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata and Philine in Thomas' Mignon . To our knowledge, no other singer, before or since, could move with such seemingly perfect ease from Mozart to Bellini to the most dramatic of the Wagner roles. Her only teacher had been her mother, the singer and harpist, Marie Loewe. To sing to such acclaim in the major opera houses of the world and to have sung so long meant that she must have had a very healthy voice and an incredibly sound technique.

As if her singing engagements were not enough, she began teaching in 1891. Two of her students, Olive Fremstadt and Geraldine Ferrar, were among the many stars she taught. Besides singing several major roles at the Salzburg Festival, she became its artistic director in 1905.

Her book first appeared in German as Meine Gesangskunst . It was translated by the music editor of the New York Times , Richard Aldrich (1863-1937), and was published in this country as How to Sing in 1902. That the book went through at least eleven printings testifies as to the esteem in which it was held. The preface by Madame Lehmann to the Third Revised Edition dates from January 1922. In the eighty-one years since, there have been great changes in the teaching of singing or vocal pedagogy. The ideas have not changed, but there are many new and different attitudes as to how the ideal vocal tone is achieved. These attitudes grow out of a field generally known as Voice Science . As its title implies her book presents her method of singing and teaching and as such impinges upon both pedagogy and voice science.

Vocal pedagogy really needs no explanation. It is the teaching of singing and has been here ever since mankind took singing seriously. Voice science is a comparatively recent development. Many feel it began when Manuel Garcia (1805-1906!), one of the most famous singing teachers of all time, invented the laryngoscope sometime between 1841 and 1855. William Vennard gives the earlier date in his book, Singing the Mechanism and the Technic , while April Fitzlyon in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives the later date. The laryngoscope is a little mirror at the proper angle attached to a long handle. This simple device makes it possible to see the vocal folds or cords in vibration. It has since become a useful tool used by dentists and throat specialists. The singing teachers of the world ignored to a great extent Garcia's invention. Until after the Second World War there was an almost phobic fear of this voice science, because it was felt that it endangered the "magic" of the singing act. Maybe the real fear was that the greater knowledge of the workings of the voice called into question some of the mythology and imagery that had been part and parcel of the teaching of singing for many, many years.

When the late William Vennard, teacher of Marilyn Horne and Professor of Voice at the University of Southern California, became president of The National Association of Teachers of Singing in 1964, his book, mentioned above, had gone through three editions. Teachers of singing were gradually coming to believe that scientific knowledge was not necessarily an enemy of vocal and musical artistry. Because of the force of his personality his presidency saw a major turning point in the thinking of many singing teachers. This change has grown and spread in the intervening years. By now several schools have full vocal arts laboratories and there are several centers of vocal research in the United State and Europe. One among many of the advancements in vocal technology is the spectograph. By means of this machine, teacher and singing student can see a graphic representation of the harmonic component of a sung sound. This can be of tremendous help in the analysis of vocal problems.

Despite all these additions to the literature and the technological ability of the fields of vocal pedagogy and voice science, Lilli Lehmann's book remains a major landmark and presents much valid information. It should be read by singers, teachers of singing, and anyone interested in this fascinating art. What sets it apart is that it was the first and maybe the only book about singing written by a singer of such international stature. Other fine singers have written books but they are generally full of reminiscences or advice about building a successful singing career.

Perhaps you will forgive a little advice for readers of the twenty-first century. First of all, remember that her vowel designations refer to how those vowels are pronounced in American dictionaries, such as the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. The International Phonetic Alphabet, which is in wide use in the teaching of singing today, was not established by the International Phonetic Association until 1938. Don't be put off by her minute descriptions of some parts of the act of singing. She is trying to tell her readers exactly what she felt and did as a singer. Remember that the terminology of singing has undergone great changes in the last eighty years. For instance and for a variety of reasons, the term "onset" is preferred over "attack." "Attack" is now too closely associated with "assault." When she uses the term "breath jerk" she is advising that the taking of the breath be quick and silent. Most important are her admonitions concerning the lack of exaggeration, the dominance of the head voice over the entire vocal range, and the constant search for "legato." In rereading this book twice in recent weeks I am truly impressed with how much her recommendations are part of what is being taught today. Learn and enjoy!

Dale Moore is Professor Emeritus of the Eastman School of Music, and for ten years was Professor of Music (Voice) at the Indiana University School of Music. He has performed on operatic stages throughout the United States, as well as in the East Room of The White House.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2011

    A Worthwhile Approach

    While Lehmann goes on a bit much about her thoughts about conservatories, when she moves into the core of the book, the physiology of singing, the presentation is quite nice. In particular, her tips for how singing should feel can start to be felt as soon as they are tried out. Her tips on breathing - you don't need a belly full of air, you need a way of creating a consistent air stream - are great.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    WTF

    Omg I want a recondmendation who cres if it is spelled right now I don't know wether to get the book. Thanks alot

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Hey

    Be quiet

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    Interesting

    A very in-depth study of the physiology involved in singing. I recommend this book for all singers who want to progress, and aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    Truth

    Truth is none of you can spell im in 3rd grade and i spell better than you guys!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Hello, Look at the 2 reviews above me.

    Are my eyes messed up, or should they go back to Elementaru school to learn how to SPELL?!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    How crazy ?

    Hi im jw how crazy and why ?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

    Crazy

    This icrazys

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted October 19, 2010

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    Posted March 17, 2009

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    Posted May 21, 2011

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    Posted May 14, 2010

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    Posted April 4, 2010

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